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Pujols' RBI single puts him 7 shy of 3,000 hits

MLB.com @alysonfooter

HOUSTON -- Albert Pujols inched closer to his 3,000th hit with a single in the seventh inning of Tuesday night's 8-7 win over the Astros at Minute Maid Park. It was career hit No. 2,993 for Pujols, who needs just seven more to reach the prestigious milestone.

Pujols logged the game-tying hit off Houston right-handed reliever Joe Smith, who then yielded a three-run homer to Andrelton Simmons.

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HOUSTON -- Albert Pujols inched closer to his 3,000th hit with a single in the seventh inning of Tuesday night's 8-7 win over the Astros at Minute Maid Park. It was career hit No. 2,993 for Pujols, who needs just seven more to reach the prestigious milestone.

Pujols logged the game-tying hit off Houston right-handed reliever Joe Smith, who then yielded a three-run homer to Andrelton Simmons.

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"I got a situation the first couple of at-bats to drive in some runs," Pujols said. "It was a big spot right there. I tried to get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing, and that's what I did. Joe Smith's pretty tough. He has a really good submarine slider and good sinker. I kept my hands inside and drove the ball back to the middle. I'm glad that I kept the rally going."

Video: LAA@HOU: Trout, Simmons, Pujols power Angels to win

When Pujols reaches the 3,000-hit mark, he will become just the fourth player in Major League history with at least 3,000 hits and 600 homers, joining Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez. Pujols is 32nd on the all-time hits list, behind Roberto Clemente, who had exactly 3,000 during his Hall of Fame career.

3,000-hit club

The milestone hit should come sometime soon, and while Pujols does think about it on a daily basis, the first baseman/designated hitter insists it's not at the forefront of his mind when he's preparing for games. But he also knows 3,000 is special, and he'll be grateful for the moment when it does happen.

"I don't want to ignore it," Pujols said. "It's something everybody's aware of, including myself. But my main focus is to try to help the ballclub win. If I stay healthy, one of these days it's going to come. I don't put pressure on myself. I just try to put a good swing, just like I have [for the other other] 2,993.

"Sooner or later, seven more will come. I don't really think about it. It's hard for me to focus on that. My focus is on helping this ballclub to win."

Tweet from @Angels: SEVEN!!!!!!! 💪💪💪💪💪💪💪@PujolsFive didn't like our last tweet. He ties the game up with a RBI single!#RoadTo3000 pic.twitter.com/9oZKCqxLJu

Pujols, who was hitless in four plate appearances on Monday and his first three at-bats on Tuesday, has had more success in Houston than any visiting player in the history of Minute Maid Park. He has 63 lifetime home runs versus the Astros, including the postseason, a record by a large margin. The only players within 20 homers of Pujols are Aaron (46) and Willie McCovey (44).

Given the success Pujols has had in Houston, perhaps it would have been fitting for him to log hit No. 3,000 at Minute Maid Park. Fortunately for the Angels and their fans, the team is headed home after Wednesday's series finale for a six-game homestand, opening up the real possibility that Pujols will reach the milestone in front of his own fans.

"I think it'll be a pretty emotional day, the day it happens," Pujols said. "Pretty exciting. I hope at the end of the day, it happens in a game we win. It'll be more special."

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

Los Angeles Angels, Albert Pujols